• Dan Russoman

Hammonton High School wins postseason opener


Giada Palmieri (right) moves the ball past Jackson Liberty’s Lidiya Kelyman. (THG/Dan Russoman.To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—Despite controlling much of the action early in its South Jersey Group 3 playoff opener against Jackson Liberty, Hammonton High School’s field hockey team found itself deadlocked in a scoreless tie.


The Blue Devils finally broke through with five minutes remaining in the first quarter, as Madison Gazzara sent a shot into the cage, sparking Hammonton to an eventual 3-1 halftime lead. The Blue Devils would add five more goals in the second half and cruise to an 8-1 win.


“We weren’t nervous because we knew we’d score,” Hammonton coach Rosie Staas said.


“It was frustrating because we had so many chances early, but I was confident that we’d eventually break through,” Staas said.


Early in the second quarter, Maria Berenato fielded a pass from Sophia Pullia and scored to put Hammonton up 2-0. Five minutes later, Jackson’s Emily Tavaska scored to cut the deficit to 2-1, but Kylie Kozlowski answered for Hammonton with a goal just before the break to put the Devils in front 3-1.


Hammonton received a boost in the second half when Abby Goblirsch entered the game. Goblirsch, one of Hammonton’s top scorers this season, sat out the first half because Staas thought she was too ill to play.


“I didn’t feel well [last weekend] and wasn’t going to play. But at halftime, I told coach [Staas] I felt better and she put me in the game. I was really excited. I think just the energy and excitement and anticipation of going in really made me fight and really want to score,” Goblirsch said.


Staas admitted that Goblirsch provided a lift after a sluggish first half.


“It’s not that the morale changed, but it was just that much more heightened [when Goblirsch entered the game] It just turned up. It was crazy. They were just so excited for her and everyone helped each other. It was amazing,” Staas said.


It took Goblirsch and Hammonton just a few minutes to turn a close game into a blowout. With 10:36 remaining in the third quarter, the sophomore scored off a rebound in front of Jackson’s goal. Seconds later, Chloe Comunale took a pass from Goblirsch and scored for a 5-1 Hammonton lead.


Goblirsch quickly added her second goal of the game off a pass from Gracie Donio with 8:21 left in the quarter.


“We played really well, connecting our passes and talking and communicating and working well as a team in the second half more than the first half,” Goblirsch said.


Three minutes after Goblirsch’s second goal, Brianna Gazzara added a goal for Hammonton.


In the fourth quarter, Giada Palmieri sealed the win for the Blue Devils with her third goal of the season.


The victory sent Hammonton into the quarterfinals against Burlington Twp. on November 2. That game ended too late for this edition. Staas and the Blue Devils hoped they would carry the momentum from their win last week through the tournament.


“I keep telling the girls (that) possibly we have four games left to win a championship. So, one-by-one, you have to play each one like it is your championship game. We’re playing with a lot of confidence right now. They are running with it right now, and they are super excited,” Staas said.